Antony Owen

Afghan hospitality

“These are people who are fleeing for their lives because of our mistakes, because of our greed, because of our love with war and the least we can do is to welcome them”

Sabir Zazai

Weeks ago,

Clouds of mint and coriander led to a house

this house shall soon be mutton falling from the bone,

this child full of chickpeas and shrapnel lays upon his uncast shadow.

Months ago,

a friend translated a phrase called “raft oh amad”.

Those Afghan eyes invited me to see western hospitality.

He gutted a guava and threw the seeds yelling “my country”

Days ago,

Americans grieved for amputated helicopters.

Wires ripped out like eye sockets so enemies couldn’t see.

A nineteen-year-old war veteran of Afghanistan fell from a plane.

Centuries ago,

Alexander wept in Bactria her ancient name.

The Nuristan frowned by two thousand horses’ tongues,

it must have kept those whispers like crickets in tree amber.

Seconds ago,

my friend Sabir became the folklores and messenger,

and Afghanistan, and human, and all the things a feast forbids.

We were never invited to the house of Afghanistan, no raft of amad.


Afghanistan, show us,

how whelks attach themselves to rocks

through mortals clinging on to steel American Eagles.

Afghanistan, show us,

how those black dots on my screen are not specks

but a human blizzard black as Hiroshima rain from America.

Afghanistan, show us,

why Alexander wept in the Nuristan swirls of henna,

why he fired a kiss from the yew through his loyal horses’ chest.

Afghanistan, teach us,

why the landay women pour out their souls like honey

how in that moment all is golden and sticky as shed blood?

Afghanistan, know this,

I tried to light a candle for you as the sun set on my skin

But the wind would not allow it because I am doing it for myself.

Afghanistan, know this,

last night a fox licked out parasites from its kits

One of them succumbed but three of them shall be gekkering come dawn.

America, show us,

how stars leave stripes of light as they shoot across sky

show us that these are not just illusions but something to wish upon.

America, show us,

how drones strike so fast they do not leave a shadow

and the collateral damage is blood not brick and bitumen.

America, leave them,

like Vietnam and paper skinned babies of napalm

and ask Michael Bay to make a film where America saves us all.

Antony Owen © 2021